Best Hunting Tree Stands

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

47 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
594 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hunting tree stands

Last Updated October 2019

When hunting season rolls around, if you want to be positioned above your prey, you will need a hunting tree stand. It gives you an elevated spot from which to hunt, shelters you from sight since deer and other animals rarely look up, and lets you sit back in comfort for long stretches.

Tree stands have been growing in popularity, forcing manufacturers to create new types of stands that are lighter, easier to use, and more robust than ever. The three main types are ladder tree stands, hang-on tree stands, and climber tree stands. Each has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your preferences and where you regularly hunt.

There is an old saying that hunters never grow rich. Perhaps not, but with the low cost of a tree stand, you don’t have to go broke, either. Keep reading, and we’ll walk you through the details of hunting tree stands so you can make the best decision for your hunting style.

Hunting from a tree stand generally means you’ll be staying in one place all day, which can be an adjustment if you are used to hunting on the ground.

Key considerations

Types of tree stands

Ladder tree stands

These are tree stands with a long, rigid ladder. You assemble the ladder and lean it up against your chosen tree. Then, you climb to the top and fasten the straps around the body of the tree to secure it in place. These are the heaviest and bulkiest of the three types of tree stands. They are also the easiest and quietest tree stands to get into and out of once they are in place.

Notably, the ladder sticks out like a sore thumb to the deer and other game animals. You’ll need to assemble it and put it in place several weeks before hunting season begins to give the animals a chance to acclimate themselves to it. Due to the weight and bulk of these models, packing them into the woods and back out again can be quite a chore.

Hang-on tree stands

On the opposite end of the scale in terms of weight and bulk are hang-on tree stands. A simple set of straps wrap around the body of the tree keep the stand in place. They can be positioned in and among tree branches without cutting any of them down to get the stand into the tree.

The disadvantage of this type of stand is that you have to use strap-on climbing sticks or screw-in climbing steps to climb the tree. The weight of those climbing aids nearly cancels the advantage of the low weight of this type of stand. Once you’re at the height where you want the stand to be attached, you have to hang onto the tree while positioning the stand and cinching the straps tight to hold it securely. This can be a precarious balancing act. A safety harness, straps, and D-clips are highly recommended to keep you from falling.

Climber tree stands

These tree stands are somewhere between the other two in regards to weight and portability, but they are the easiest to install. Once the straps are in place around the bottom of the tree, you “walk” it up the tree. You lift the bottom platform, then put your weight on it to secure it in place. Lift the upper platform an equal distance; then, put weight on it to secure it. You can now move the stand up the tree like an inchworm until you reach your desired height.

The obvious disadvantage to this type of tree stand is that it only works on trees that don’t have any limbs sticking below your desired anchor point. If there are any limbs, you’ll have to cut them off in order to get the straps past them. The other disadvantage is that the tree stand makes a lot of noise during the climbing process. Once you’ve reached your chosen height, though, simply tighten the straps and you’re ready to hunt.

Public land

The other consideration you have to keep in mind is the type of land you’re hunting on. If you’re hunting on public land, it’s doubtful you’d be allowed to cut branches off the trees or mount a permanent or semi-permanent ladder to one of them. Even if the forest or park service allows it in your area, the land is open to all, including determined thieves who might steal your tree stand if you leave it in place for several weeks.

Private land

On private land, whether it is your own or someone else’s, you have a bit more freedom. Most landowners will let you cut a few limbs off a tree so you can use a tree climber stand. Additionally, there won’t be as many other hunters on the land, so your tree stand will be much less likely to be stolen.

Available tree types

Climber tree stands require trees that don’t have many limbs on their lower reaches, such as a lodgepole pine. Large Douglas fir trees don’t have branches down low, but you’ll have to get strap extensions to go all the way around their larger girth.

Trees with lots of branches, particularly thick branches, will limit you to hang-on or ladder tree stands. Before buying a tree stand, take a walk through your future hunting ground to see what kinds of trees there are and where they’re located. If the wrong type of tree is in the perfect spot, you’ll have to change what kind of tree stand you get.

DID YOU KNOW?

Your body heat means your scent will generally rise. This is a part of why being in a hunting tree stand will reduce the chances of prey detecting you.

Features

Frame material

Most hunting tree stands are made from steel or aluminum. If steel is the primary material, double-check the paint job to make sure none of the steel is exposed to the weather to prevent rust. While aluminum is not as strong, it is lighter and cannot rust.

Seat cushion material

Some have rubberized seats while others use nylon webbing. Consider that you’ll be sitting on it for hours at a time. Which type would be more comfortable for you?

Weight capacity

Hunting tree stands vary in their weight capacity, which depends largely on the materials and design of the stand. Most stands can support anywhere from 300 to 500 pounds. When choosing the right stand for your needs, consider not only your weight but also the added weight of any gear you intend to bring along when you are up in the stand.

Color

Green and various shades of gray are the primary colors for the metal parts of tree stands, with camouflage fabric on the seat, back, and other parts. Since blending in is key, there are few other color options available.

Shooting rail

A padded shooting rail gives you something to rest your rifle on and improves your aim. Not all tree stands have one, as it adds to the weight, so you’ll have to decide how important this particular feature is to you.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re afraid of heights, a hunting tree stand likely isn’t for you.


Staff  | BestReviews

Essential accessories

You can’t always install a tree stand exactly the way you want it out of the box. Here are a few accessories to consider to make the job easier and improve your hunting experience.

Safety Harness: Hunter Safety System X-1 Treestand Hunting Harness
When you’re 10 or 20 feet up in the air, you need a safety harness in case you slip or start to fall. We like this reliable safety harness for its simple design and camouflage fabric.

Safety Line: Hunter Safety System Reflective Treestand Lifeline
A safety harness by itself doesn’t do much good unless you have a rope to go with it. This rope has reflective material in it that makes it easy to spot when you shine a light on it.

Snap Links: Hunter Safety System High-Strength Carabiners
Snap links, also known as carabiners, snap links are a necessity whether you’re climbing cliffs or trees. Get some high-performance snap links to keep you safe, like this lightweight pair from Hunter Safety System.

Equipment hanger: Pine Ridge Archery Hunt-n-Gear Equipment HangerManaging all of your gear up in a tree can be difficult, but this 5-foot strap that will fit around most trees and has hooks on it for holding your equipment when you’re not using it.

Umbrella: Allen Camo Treestand Umbrella
There’s no protection from the rain when you’re in a tree, so you’re going to get soaked if you don’t have an umbrella that is made for tree stands. This one mounts to any tree quickly and easily.

Shooting rail: Guide Gear Universal Padded Shooting Rail
If the tree stand you like doesn’t have a shooting rail, you can use this universal shooting rail along with it. The padding is camouflaged too.

Tree stand blind kit: Big Game Treestands Deluxe Universal Blind Kit
This blind kit attaches to any shooting rail and provides a 32-inch high blind around you. From the ground, you will be completely concealed.

Tree stand shelf: HME Products Universally Mountable Accessories Shelf
If you need somewhere to put your coffee or sandwich, this shelf has an expandable cup holder and enough shelf space for a sandwich or binoculars.

Camera arm: HME Products Better Trail Camera Holder
To record your hunt, get a camera arm mounts directly to the tree so you can record your hunt from your angle of choice. This model features 120° vertical adjustment to help you capture a variety of angles.

DID YOU KNOW?

Being hidden among the branches of a tree helps conceal you from animals, but the branches can also obscure your line of fire.

Hunting tree stand prices

Inexpensive hunting tree stands are available for under $100 are typically bare bones hang-on or climber tree stands. If you are looking for a sturdy and long-lasting model, you will need to pay a bit more.

Mid-range hunting tree stands for $100 to $200 are often ladder or climber tree stands with sturdy frames.

For $200 and above are high-quality tree stands made of durable steel frames and additional features like shooting rails. If you hope to leave your tree stand up for an extended period, models in this range are your best bet.

Tips

  • Tree stands help keep your scent away from the ground, making it harder for deer and other animals to smell you.
  • The motion of tree branches in the wind will help conceal your own movements when you’re in a tree stand.
  • Aiming down at your target from a tree stand ensures any misses will use the ground as a backstop for your rounds.
  • You should regularly inspect your tree stand for any loose parts or signs of wear to prevent an accident.

Other products we considered

We like the lightweight, low-cost Guide Gear Hang On Tree Stand. If you're hunting on public land and don't want to put up an expensive stand that a thief might steal, this could be your best option. It is a minimalist tree stand with few creature comforts and safety features. It's prone to rusting, however — but a quick paint job can address this.

We also like the Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Tree Stand. This is a good climber if you're around lodgepole pines or other trees that don't have low hanging branches. The seat is comfortable for long periods of time. The included straps may need to be exchanged for some thicker ones to accommodate the weight of the steel parts.

When you’re in a tree stand, you’re exposed to the wind and rain. The higher you climb, the colder the wind will be, so dress accordingly.

FAQ

Q. Can a tree stand be left in a tree all year?
A.
Yes, but you need to have permission from the landowner if it isn’t on your own property. You can also expect your tree stand to wear faster if you leave it up year-round.


Q. Are straight trees the only kind of tree that tree stands can be used in?
A.
Not necessarily; it depends on the type of stand you opt for. If you’re using a ladder stand, the tree can be bent or angled.


Q. Is a tree stand better than a ground stand?
A.
This is a common question and one that is generally guaranteed to start an argument. Neither one is better or worse — it’s a matter of personal preference.

The team that worked on this review
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Karen
    Karen
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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